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Ford set to target pre-school market with next F-150 variant

06/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Trucks/Pickups, Etc., Toys, Humor

Ford F-150 Power Wheels

How do you build a strong group of loyalists from the next generation of American drivers? You start em' young. Ford has taken that lesson to heart, as we can see in the first batch of images of the company's new entry to the pre-school market, the Power Wheels F-150.

This particular example was caught returning from testing around Ford's base of operations in Dearborn, MI - covered in tiny little bits of camouflage, too. Now, this could very well end up being a collaboration between Power Wheels and Ford. Then again, it could just be some bored engineers that decided to troll the local congregation of spy photographers, who earlier today captured images of the next Focus RS and SVT Mustang.

Whatever it is, it's pretty darn cool. Take a look up top for images of the new Power Wheels F-150.

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2016 Ford Mustang SVT hides big power under its domed hood

06/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Ford

2016 Ford Mustang SVT

With a number of 2015 Ford Mustang versions finally available to configure, the fun of speculating about next year's high-performance 'Stang can now begin. It looks like Ford has something seriously fun planned too. One of our spy photographers just snapped some fresh pics of the 2016 Mustang SVT, which is believed to be hiding the final body shape under all of that heavy camouflage.

Ford clearly doesn't want prying eyes looking at its new pride and joy. It would be hard to put much more obfuscation on a car than this one wears - it even has mesh baffles around the exhausts to conceal how many there are and panels over the wheels to hide their design. However, the Blue Oval can't keep everything a secret. The biggest clue that something special is hidden underneath is the massive hood bulge and vent in front of it. Clearly, whatever is under there is hungry for cool air. The shape of the camo indicates that there may be fender vents on each side, and there are also obscured outlets behind the front wheels likely to pull cool air through the brakes. At the rear, the concealment does its job, making it hard to observe any big changes. The fact that Ford wants it kept such a secret might indicate something, though.

A few photos of the interior show far less cover than the outside. You can easily make out the model's 6,500 rpm redline with a possible 7,000 rpm over-rev function. The big Recaro sport seats also look quite supportive.

The name of the new high-performance Mustang is still somewhat of a mystery. While SVT is developing the model, it's reportedly called simply the GT350. Until Ford decides that the camo is less necessary, at least these spy shots can help build more anticipation for its top pony car.

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2016 Ford Focus RS mule spotted on US soil

06/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, Ford

Ford Focus RS: Spy Shots

Okay Ford, this is what we like to see. One of our intrepid spy photographers has captured a vehicle that we weren't even sure would see the light of day - the next Focus RS. While this is pretty clearly a mule based on the current Focus ST, as our spy points out, there are a number of giveaways about this hot hatch's true nature.

Indication number one that all is not right with this Focus is the heavily camo'd front fascia, which has been completely reconfigured for duty on the RS. It boasts significantly larger grilles that are meant to accommodate what is likely the 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that's destined for the 2015 Ford Mustang. Considering that, then, we can expect around 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque from the hottest of Foci, although it's entirely possible that the production model could climb even higher, to around 330 hp.

The front fascia tweaks are complemented in the back by a modified rear bumper, which fails at hiding a pair of exhaust tips quite unlike the standard Focus ST's center-exit exhaust. Other obvious changes include the wheel/tire/brake package on this particular car. Larger 19-inch wheels are shod in super-sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires in 235/35/19 while the brakes feature what we think are four-piston calipers, possibly from Brembo, up front.

The big question that we can't answer with these photos is, though, whether the next RS will use all-wheel drive. That remains an open question, although hopefully we'll see evidence supporting that theory sooner rather than later. Until then, though, hop up top and take a look at the full gallery of spy photos of the next Ford Focus RS.

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Honda's Euro Civic hatch getting facelift, too

06/12/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Economy, Euro, Hatchbacks, Honda, UK

Honda Civic

Honda's freshening of the Civic line isn't just limited to the North American market, as proven by these images of the Euro-spec model testing on Her Majesty's motorways.

According to our spies, this new Civic boasts a heavily restyled front fascia, with headlights and taillights that draw a quite a bit of inspiration from the Civic Type R Concept from the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

The restyled front fascia has a sportier lean, with more significant lateral intakes and what looks like a slightly larger lower intake. It's more difficult to make out details on the rear of the car, although we can spot a modest little diffuser and a larger integrated spoiler.

There's no word on when we'll see this new Honda sans camo, although the 2014 Paris Motor Show, in October, seems like a likely destination.

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Bentley SUV spotted wearing its own suit

06/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, SUVs, Bentley, Luxury

Bentley SUV prototype

It's been over two years since Bentley unveiled its first SUV concept at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. In the time since, Bentley has sent it back to the drawing board and started development, embodied just a couple of weeks ago as a test mule wearing the bodywork of an Audi Q7, the replacement for which will share its underpinnings with the new Bentley. But what we have here is our best look yet at the forthcoming big Bentley.

Now wearing its own suit (albeit a heavily camouflaged one), this Bentley SUV prototype was recently spotted undergoing testing. And judging from the NewBentley.com stickers plastered along its flanks and rear bumpers, it seems like the crew from Crewe wanted us to see it - or at very least has resigned itself to the fact that we probably would.

The prototype is already wearing the new round headlamps that were part of the redesign, as well as LED taillights, and the interior photos snapped through the windows give us an idea of what to expect from the completed cabin, including the digital instrument cluster and head-up display at the base of the windshield.

The jury's still out on what name the finished product will carry when it reaches the market in 2016 with potential V8 and W12 power, but for our part we're still fixated on the Falcon for which the last letter in the concept's EXP 9 F handle was said to stand.

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Are you the next Nissan Frontier?

06/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Trucks/Pickups, Nissan, Diesel

Spy shot of the Nissan Frontier/Navara taken in Thailand, front three-quarter view.

A reader of the Phillippine site Autoindustriya.com sent in what appear to be naked spy photos of the pickup that Nissan recently teased first in photo then in video. The shots, one taken from the front and one from the back, have been found on the Nissan Navara Club Thailand forum. The details in the two photos, one from the front and one from the back, match up with the details we can make out from the teaser video, lending credence to the idea that this is indeed the next Nissan Navara, which is essentially the Frontier in overseas markets. Nissan US has reportedly disavowed this as our next Frontier, though; the mysterious photo on Twitter was put there by Nissan Thailand, supposedly the location of these two trucks.

The only other detail submitted with the images is that there's a 2.5-liter turbodiesel under the hood putting out 187 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, running through either a seven-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. The reveal is scheduled for June 11, which is when we should know a lot more about the Navara and how much it is or isn't indicative of what we'll get with the next Frontier, a vehicle we're still not expecting for some time.

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Porsche Cayenne spied unconstrained by camouflage

06/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Crossovers/CUVs, Porsche, Luxury

Porsche Cayenne

Meet the facelifted Porsche Cayenne. Our eagle-eyed spy shooters captured this example of Porsche's freshened SUV virtually devoid of camo, giving us our clearest look yet at what the eventual mid-cycle work will do to the strong-selling Cayenne.

The overall changes do, indeed, look minor, with a reprofiled intake being the most obvious item. The headlights are still covered, so we don't know what kind of jeweling has been done, but the shape does appear identical to the current model. Overall, the changes appear totally in line with a mid-cycle refresh.

As we explained previously, a plug-in Cayenne is on the way. It will join a crop of engines that is likely to be similar to what's on offer today, with naturally aspirated, turbocharged, hybrid and diesel variants released over time.

As of now, there's no word on just when the freshened Cayenne will arrive, although we'd bet that its auto show debut will come in early October, at the Paris Motor Show. That doesn't rule out an online debut in the months and weeks before, though.

Take a look up top and let us know what you think of Porsche's latest bit of design work.

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BMW almost ready to roll out new 2 Series cabriolet

06/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Convertibles, BMW, Luxury

BMW 2 Series Convertible

The 2 Series is a relatively new member of the BMW family, having been spun off of the 1 Series (itself one of the company's youngest lines) just last year. So far the range has been split between the Active Tourer and the 2 Series Coupe, but soon the latter will breed a new compact convertible to take the place of the outgoing 1 Series cabriolet, and here we have our best look at it yet.

Spied with the most minimal camouflage and its top down while undergoing its final rounds of development testing, this pre-production 2 Series cabrio looks about ready for show time. While the Active Tourer is based on a different front-drive platform, this convertible is, as you might have guessed, essentially a 2 Series Coupe with a folding fabric roof. That means rear-wheel drive (or potentially all-wheel drive if BMW extends its availability from the coupe to the convertible) win either 228i or M235i specification - both of them turbocharged, the former with a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four and the latter with the 320-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six.

Considering that BMW got an approximately $8k premium for the 1 Series convertible over the coupe, expect the 2 Series cabrio to start at a little over $40k for the 228i and top out at around $53k for the M235i xDrive convertible. That is, assuming BMW offers it in that top spec, because at that rate we're getting perilously close to the $54,900 base price of the 435i convertible.

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Mercedes-Benz MLC interior snapped for the first time

06/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Crossovers/CUVs, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz MLC Spy Shots

Mercedes-Benz MLCMercedes-Benz is back testing its new MLC, the lifted, 'four-door coupe' crossover that will challenge the BMW X6 for the title of least utile utility vehicle. We've already shown you exterior images, along with a peak at the AMG variant and now, we have our first look at the new Benz's cabin.

The interior looks like pretty standard fare for Mercedes. The center console sports a similar setup for the COMAND infotainment system as the new C-Class, while we can spot what looks like a sort of terrain management system closer to the passenger's side.

The center stack, meanwhile, looks similar to what we've seen on other Mercedes products. The dash, meanwhile, features a wide band of brushed aluminum with a leather-lined dash. The steering wheel also looks borrowed from the C-Class.

On the outside, the camo is slightly lighter, offering up more detail around the fascia, where we can see the intakes underneath what look like GLA-inspired headlights. Overall, the look remains largely in line with the Concept Coupe SUV from the Beijing Motor Show.

Take a look up top for our full gallery of images of the new MLC and its interior.

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New Buick Verano testing in Germany

05/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sedans/Saloons, Buick, Luxury

Buick Verano Spy Shots

A refresh to Buick's popular Verano sedan appears to be nigh, thanks to these spy photos that show the tweaked four-door testing in Germany.

As with the current Verano, the refreshed model will have a great deal in common with its European platform-mates, the Vauxhall/Opel Astra. Each car rides on General Motors's Delta II platform. Unlike the current car, though, the refreshed model's styling could lean more heavily towards its European roots, if these photos are any indication.

Despite its commonality with the Astra Sedan, the Verano has featured its own unique styling since arriving in the US back in 2011 as a 2012 model, with distinct fascias at both the front and back, as wells its own headlight and taillight designs. The two cars were still rebadged vehicles, but it was more subtle than it will be in 2015, when the refreshed Verano arrives. Astra-like elements are expected to dominate, particularly in regards to the headlights and taillights. That said, trademark Buick styling features will remain, like the waterfall grille. Really, then, the 2016 Verano won't be unlike the Regal - a rebadged Vauxhall/Opel Insignia, aside from a few very small styling details.

All said, we like the idea of the Astra's styling becoming a bigger part of the Verano's design. As compact vehicles go, it's one of the sharper offerings on European roads. Now, if we could only get GM to sell a Buick version of the hatchback, or perhaps a Verano GS based on the Astra OPC...

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